I’ve been depressed.
Long months, wearing down my mind and my soul and my heart. Months where I continued to take my prescribed medication and see my therapist and do all of the things. Sometimes I show up to do public things, sometimes I do not.
If you wonder where, I’ve been – this is where. In this space of uncomfortable nothingness punctuated by the occasional burst of anxiety.
It was triggered by some real life events in my personal story that aren’t worth repeating here, but have been incredibly hard to process and cope with. The ridiculous weather fluctuations do not help. Sometimes I literally feel like the clogging of my sinuses keeps the bad feelings trapped in my mind. That’s fanciful, but apt.
I recently blogged about a day with anxiety. It is like fighting a battle on two fronts when coupled with depression. Anxiety can make life hell, but depression is the quieter, deeper threat to simply having a life.
My interest in most things is pretty minimal. I don’t go many places, certainly not by myself. I avoid socializing. I sleep (nap) a lot, but I rarely feel rested or refreshed. I don’t eat very much or very well. There’s a pallor cast over even the simple pleasures. Even something as simple as taking a walk around the block feels overwhelming.
I thinking right now that I should take that walk to get it off my ‘to do’ list but that means taking off my comfy clothes that aren’t really suitable for a walk around the block and finding my sneakers and then being outside in the heat and light and what happens if I feel scared and do I need to shut the windows and what if, what if, what if?
There is a thing called ‘Season Affective Disorder’ or SAD which ties depression to the lack of light and seasonal changes. It effects about 4-6% of our population according to Web MD. About 10% of those people are impacted in reverse – they, like me, get depressed as the weather gets nicer. I’ve had this happen for years. The only times I did really well were the springs and summers where I was very busy – the year I ran track, the summer I interned for Rick Santorum, etc and had lots of structure to keep me going.
Other years, I remember spending a lot of June sitting in my room. Alone. Sad and acutely aware that something was not right about this. I just thought it was me. I would usually improve in July and feel a sense of panic about summer passing me by. I didn’t realize that the return of the fall was calling me back to my even-keeled self. It was an odd disconnected sensation that did not reflect how I thought I was supposed to feel – happy in summer, sad to go back to school, etc. I knew that crying in my room during June for days on end was probably not typical, but I just assumed the problem was ‘me’ – not a disorder.
Having the words to describe and understand my experience makes a huge difference. I am depressed right now. I have to stay focused on day to day matters of caring for myself. I will feel better eventually. I can appreciate things about spring and summer on my own terms. Yesterday, I wanted to try the Starbucks unicorn frappucino just because. I knew that I could not walk into Starbucks so I asked Laura if she would mind picking up one for me. Of course she didn’t mind because it is a pretty simple request and she could get herself a chai while she was there, but it was a big deal to me to ask her. I’ll skip describing how anxiety kicked in to this transaction, but when we arrived home – I was able to look at this otherwordly tribute to all that is artificial and pink in our lives and smile. I took a photo of the drink on the window ledge. Laura tried it. We both agreed it was tasty, but not something you’d want to drink too often.
But today I feel somewhat good that I took advantage of a spring ‘thing’ even if it was consumeristic, silly and overpriced. The drink didn’t change my depression, but my skill in assessing what took place before and during the purchase of the drink does make a dent in the fog. I identified something that might bring me a measure of pleasure, I asked for help in obtaining it, I hung in there in spite of anxiety about the situation and I found it to be midly pleasant. I remember smiling. That’s a huge win.
So today, I will try to do something for myself that is comforting or pleasant. And then tomorrow, I will not worry about achieving something. I’ll just roll with the day to give my mind a break.
There are days when I congratulate myself for loading the dishwasher, making dinner and starting a load of laundry. And there are days when I congratulate myself for far lesser accomplishments.
And guess what? I stopped blogging for six minutes and took that walk. That’s huge. Yay, me!
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, I urge you to talk with your health care providers or seek out a good mental health providers to get some support. There are lot of options and resources to help you live with depression. You are not alone.
Reach out for help 800-950-6264.